Where Is The Progress Promised On Gender?

Women at “the frontlines of fight against gender inequality and global poverty” speak out

As current pace of change means global gender equality won’t be reached for 108 years, powerful open letter warns this is “unacceptable”

42 activists from across Africa co-sign letter calling out leaders that promises are not enough, real change is needed – starting now in 2019

Genuine progress in addressing the toxic mix of poverty and sexism is failing to materialise, according to an open letter[ released ahead of International Women’s Day (March 8).

The letter – co-signed by 42 activists from 13 countries across Africa – warns that promises of progress on gender equality are meaningless without concrete action, and women should not have to wait 108 years to achieve equality with men[.

It is unacceptable for women to wait over a century to achieve gender equality. We need meaningful action now.” said Aya Chebbi, an activist who co-signed the letter. “Our patience is running out for leaders to deliver the change they promised to women living in poverty.

The co-signers are all prominent gender-equality activists from Africa who work with women in their communities and countries. Among them, they support girls and women to receive health care, gain access to education, or use creative outlets to help them develop their skills and opportunities.  

Despite what they have achieved in their own work, they are frustrated that those in the positions of power are not delivering for millions of women in poverty.

For this to change requires those on the frontlines against gender inequality and global poverty to have a seat at the table, so their demands are not only heard, but acted upon.

For the girls who are married off as children or not allowed to go to school; for the women dying of AIDS – warm words are not enough. We need urgent action.” said Wadi Victoria Ben-Hirki, another co-signer. “Politicians are saying the right things, but their rhetoric needs to convert to reality. We need to close the gap between promises and progress.

Advancements can be made, but only if the opportunities this year presents are seized, and that women who stand at the frontline of this fight are genuinely heard and put at the centre of the decisions that will affect them.

Specifically, the G7 Summit and the Global Fund replenishment[ – both set to take place in France later this year – could deliver real improvements to the lives of millions of women in the world’s poorest countries.

But this will only happen if the promises that leaders make at moments like this are fully funded, accountable and informed by the women working on these issues day in day out.

Over 40 activists from 11 African countries have written a powerful open letter to world leaders demanding progress, not grand promises.

Stand in solidarity – sign their letter and join the fight.

Open Letter in fight against gender inequality and global poverty.


Policy fact: We’re not moving fast enough. Globally, at the current rate of change, it’s going to take over a century (108 years) to achieve gender equality. And even longer in the world’s poorest countries (135 years in SSA). 

Key stats: Women living in extreme poverty are the farthest behind. 
● There are still 1000 young women infected with HIV every day. 
● Half a billion women worldwide who can’t read. 
● About a billion women who don’t have a bank account. 
● Women and girls spend triple the amount time on unpaid care work than men and boys do, and earn less than men do for the same work. 
● 750 million of us (women) were married before our 18th birthday. 
● 1 in 3 of us have experienced or will experience physical and/or sexual violence in our lifetimes.